Top Takeaways: The Art of M&A Integration

Previous attendees share their most valuable lessons.
By Jim Jeffries, Chairman of the M&A Leadership Council

Experts predict that 2018 will be a banner year for mergers and acquisitions, with higher deal volume both domestically and internationally. Now is the time to prepare your M&A team for success, and our flagship training program is the perfect opportunity.

Endorsed by the Board of M&A Standards, The Art of M&A Integration is the only executive training program that brings together industry leaders from top firms like Willis Towers Watson and M&A Partners. They share their real-world experience in an intimate, workshop style environment that includes M&A case studies, tools, breakout sessions and panel discussions. Here’s a look at some of the lessons attendees learned from The Art of M&A Integration:

  1. Integration is a top-down, strategy-led exercise, driven by bottom-up execution. The most successful serial acquirers know that deal value begins in the C-suite. Your executive leadership must place every acquisition in the context of your organization’s strategic business plan, and act as sponsors or “owners” of each deal. Pairing this top-down approach with bottom-up tactical execution yields the best deal value.
  2. Improve collaboration with IT in due diligence and integration. IT integration is often the most costly and lengthy component of an integration, and virtually every business function depends on it. Be sure to include IT leaders in the deal team, just as you would leaders of other business functions like HR and legal.
  3. Strive for continuity between due diligence and integration teams. We often hear about deals being “thrown over the fence” from due diligence to integration. That expression highlights a significant source of value erosion: the integration team isn’t brought in early enough, so the transition from one phase to the next is fraught with risk.
  4. Selling change is half the battle. The announcement of an acquisition immediately raises concerns for all stakeholders, from employees and stockholders, to customers, vendors and even competitors. If managed incorrectly, these concerns can immediately and dramatically erode deal value. Your deal team must be responsible for change management from the very beginning.
  5. Deals should be rationale driven, not “ambition driven.” Prior to entering any deal, identify and articulate the reason(s) for the acquisitions, that is, the “deal-type DNA.” As you move forward, that rationale should guide all integration decisions. Avoid the trap of getting caught up in your aspirations for the deal, which can lead your team not only to lose sight of the deal’s key value drivers, but also to overlook potentially expensive risks and issues.
  6. Communicate the deal-type DNA throughout the process. Every deal should have a principle purpose or “DNA,” like a “code” that determines the deal’s fit and value.  Once you’ve identified the deal-type DNA, share it conscientiously with all stakeholders. Understanding the rationale for the deal often helps assuage some fear and uncertainty, and, more importantly, it also helps to keep the value drivers at the forefront of everyone’s decision-making process.
  7. Use your playbook to improve work flow management. Your M&A playbook is a vital tool for managing a deal throughout its life cycle. A modern playbook documents your M&A team’s best practices and procedures, while also providing the flexibility to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of each individual deal.

The Art of M&A Integration is offered only three times per year. The registration deadline for our February session is fast approaching, so register today.